Am I having an allergic reaction?
February 10, 2021 10:13 AM   Subscribe

The pads of my fingers are red and painful. I'm allergic to penicillin, but I've been handling amoxicillin because my kid is taking it. Could that be it?

I know about Reynaud's and it's not that. I don't live in a cold climate. Nothing else has changed in my life over the last few days. As of last night I'm making sure that I don't actually touch the capsules when I dispense them to my kid.

This is a very low-stakes question but I'm just curious, and Dr. Google isn't helping.
posted by BlahLaLa to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Does it go away if you take a Benadryl? That'd be what I'd try.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:16 AM on February 10, 2021

I would also try an oral antihistamine or a topical one and see if that helps. It is not outside the realm of possibility that this is an allergic reaction to contact with a penicillin derivative.
posted by bedhead at 10:21 AM on February 10, 2021

Best answer: This happened to my mom when she was a nurse. Try the Benadryl and maybe check in with a pharmacist. They don’t mind questions like this!
posted by corey flood at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

My mom is an RN; she can't answer the question, but she recommends a Benadryl too.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2021

Best answer: Absolutely, yes. Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic; they are both what is called beta-lactams and the core structure around that portion is 100% identical.

If that's the bit that your immune system has decided to react against, you would definitely be allergic to both.
posted by mark k at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2021 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Of course I have only Benadryl cream, but I'm gonna try that.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:29 AM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would prefer Benadryl cream - taking it internally makes you really dopey, and also Benadryl is an anticholinergic (not sure of spelling), and that class of drugs is associated with dementia, for example.
posted by amtho at 1:12 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm an RN who has multiple drug allergies. It's pretty scary. Be aware that allergic reactions tend to escalate with repeated exposure. Unlike some food allergies they are rarely "outgrown" and will almost always worsen, perhaps even to an anaphylactic reaction. A reaction that causes the pads of your fingers to redden or perhaps itch now should be expected to cause even more severe reactions in the future. My earliest anaphylactic symptoms included reddened fingers and itchy, blotchy palms, but that was for an antibiotic I took by mouth, not just handling one. It was to something I didn't know I was allergic to, but like amoxicillin, was in the family of an allergen. Caught me totally by surprise. An unpleasant and extended ER visit ensued.

I have to say I have not personally seen topical allergic symptoms from handling a medication, but there it is - you must have a severe allergy and in the future should avoid any contact, even topical with any compound similar to this. You should probably use gloves, or tap the pills into a small dish to dispense to your child but over all don't handle the pills.

I also think you should also talk to your doctor about prescribing an epi-pen just in case. Also, an appointment with a physician who specializes in allergy could be very helpful.
posted by citygirl at 7:21 PM on February 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The Benadryl cream seemed to help...also perhaps aided by the fact that it's now been over 24 hours since I touched a pill.

I didn't mention in my original question but the event that led to me learning I was allergic to penicillin in the first place included my lips and hands getting incredibly swollen -- my hands looked like I'd put on a pair of thick winter gloves...only it was just the swelling. This hands thing is what made me think allergy.

Thank you for the hours!
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:05 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am allergic to penicillin and amoxicillin, I was under the impression that if you're allergic to one cillin you're allergic to all of 'em.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:22 PM on February 10, 2021

Yes, be cautious with any -cillin and any cef- antibiotic (cephalosporins). That's what a medical professional will do if "penicillin allergy" is in your records, which it should be from the reactions you describe.

If you haven't, ask your doctor if you should consider a medical alert bracelet.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:04 AM on February 11, 2021

Just a note to also be cautious of Clindamycin. I was given that as an alternative to amoxicillin because of an allergy. They said that clindamycin is fine for those with penicillin allergies. They were wrong. I still had an allergic reaction.
posted by hydra77 at 8:30 AM on February 11, 2021

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